Skip to content

Neuchâtel: the new Swiss crypto haven


2 August 2023

The once unassuming region of Neuchâtel has transformed itself into a burgeoning hub for fintech start-ups, earning a reputation as the reference point for Swiss crypto innovation. The once unassuming region of Neuchâtel has transformed itself into a burgeoning hub for fintech start-ups, earning a reputation as the reference point for Swiss crypto innovation.

At the heart of Western Switzerland, a revolution is quietly brewing. Where most would expect the bustling financial hubs of Geneva or Zug to spearhead the crypto movement, Neuchâtel, with its serene lakeside charm, has emerged as the “promised land” of the blockchain industry.

Neuchâtel’s emergence as a crypto hub reflects a concerted effort to cultivate innovation, community, and ethical practice. From lively “beer-to-beer” meetups to philosophical debates on the future of civilization, the canton’s transformation aligns with the broader trends observed in the world of blockchain and crypto. The region’s focus on collaboration, education, and genuine societal change offer a refreshing contrast to the get-rich-quick mentality that sometimes overshadows the true potential of digital currencies.

A community united

Collaboratively, the local community, the state of Neuchâtel, and relevant industrial stakeholders have cultivated a favorable ecosystem for fintech start-ups. The emphasis is on the democratization of digital currencies, data protection, and internet rights, with around 50 companies making the canton their home.

The city has successfully positioned itself apart from the speculative frenzy often associated with cryptocurrency. Every Thursday evening, the Neuchâtel crypto family gathers at a local bar for a “beer-to-beer”, a playful twist on the peer-to-peer networking model. International crypto celebrities, such as whistleblower Chelsea Manning and the discreet Bitcoin star Amir Taaki, have become part of this tight-knit community.

Innovation and advocacy

Neuchâtel’s rise as a blockchain hub has been fueled by an ecosystem that encourages innovation and passionate advocacy for crypto technology.

34-year-old French entrepreneur Stéphanie, known as “Proof of Steph,” is emblematic of this transformation. Her bitcoin start-up, Peach, found fertile ground in Neuchâtel’s rich ecosystem, surrounded by legal and financial experts, and a sense of trust that’s unmatched elsewhere. Stéphanie’s commitment to Bitcoin as a means for societal change exemplifies the fervor that’s common in the region: “Money is calculated in time and energy, and today, you’re being robbed with its devaluation! Bitcoin is a humanitarian conception,” she declared in an interview with Swiss magazine L’Illustré.

A parallel story of technological empowerment is seen with Yves Honoré, one of the founders of Bity. Having placed 39 devices across Switzerland to facilitate buying and selling Bitcoin, Bity is pioneering a democratized and secure approach to banking. Honoré envisions a future where crypto is ubiquitous, stating, “Tomorrow, many services will offer payment in cryptocurrencies, and finally, everyone will be the master of their assets.”

This cultural shift has also fostered a network of trust, led by figures like Alexis Roussel, founder of Nym Technologies. Roussel’s belief in Neuchâtel’s potential has cemented a growing trust network in the region, something he views as “solid ground.” Despite challenges, his optimism prevails: “Crypto is not the future; it’s the present.”

The community’s vigor extends into political and cultural realms, with individuals like historian Lionel Jeannerat seeing bitcoin as a counter-power with transformative virtues. His advocacy for a free internet and efforts to debunk crypto misconceptions align with Neuchâtel’s broader vision, forging a movement that’s not just about currency but a revolution in the way society thinks about value, privacy, and empowerment. Together, these success stories illustrate a region that’s not only embracing the future but actively shaping it.

Western Switzerland for crypto and blockchain companies

Western Switzerland has established itself as a beacon for blockchain innovation, leveraging the nation’s legacy of decentralization and technological prowess. The Swiss authorities have consistently shown a progressive and pragmatic approach, creating a regulatory framework that has put Switzerland at the forefront of blockchain legislation. For example, in February 2018, FINMA became the world’s first regulator to publish clear guidelines on ICOs, recognizing the innovative potential of blockchain technology and categorizing tokens based on their economic function. By August 2021, the legal framework on decentralized electronic ledger technology (TRD) had been enforced, making Switzerland one of the most avant-garde countries in terms of legislation.

More than 60 companies have already used cryptocurrencies to create or inject new capital into their businesses in Switzerland. Switzerland’s prominent role on the international stage has made it an ideal location for global associations like the Crypto Valley Association, the Swiss Association of Crypto Investors, and the Swiss Blockchain Hub Association, all working to shape the future of blockchain technology.

The region’s financial innovation is exemplified by the Swiss stock exchange manager SIX, which is developing SIX Digital Exchange, the world’s first fully integrated service for trading, settling, and custody of digital assets. Western Switzerland also boasts an extensive network of specialized blockchain service providers, ranging from banks and law firms to experts in accounting, auditing, and taxation. Along with exemplary higher education offerings and a dynamic community of over 1,128 blockchain companies, the region plays host to international events like the Blockchain Leadership Summit and Crypto Finance Conference, fostering a vibrant environment for blockchain enthusiasts.

Neuchâtel at the heart of the crypto revolution

The story of Neuchâtel is emblematic of the broader Western Switzerland ethos, reflecting a region that has not only embraced blockchain technology but has become a leader in shaping its future. Neuchâtel’s supportive infrastructure offers entrepreneurs an environment to innovate and network within the blockchain community. With numerous high-tech industrial companies choosing Western Switzerland for their ICOs or STOs, and the presence of cutting-edge research institutions, Neuchâtel stands as a vibrant hub within Switzerland’s thriving crypto and blockchain landscape. With its potent combination of innovation, advocacy, regulation, and education, the canton epitomizes the pioneering spirit that has positioned Switzerland as a global leader in the blockchain revolution. Its role is not only a testament to the technological prowess of the region but also a symbol of the shared vision and collaborative spirit that drives this dynamic community forward.